Last-Minute Tech Shopper Gift Guide

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Last-Minute Tech Shopper Gift Guide
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It’s the evening of December 23rd, or worse yet, the morning of the 24th, and you haven’t made a dent in your holiday shopping list. You’re in trouble--but wait, there's hope. It may be too late to shop physically, at least for friends and family out of town, but luckily, you still have loads of time in the virtual world.

Here are some online gift suggestions to help you out. Just don’t mention how last-minute the inspiration struck you.

For Music Lovers: Music Streaming

For those who like having access to a wide variety of music, giving them a premium account for a popular streaming service would be a great option.

A membership to Grooveshark Anywhere for $50 a year is great for the music lover. This service uniquely includes music files that are uploaded and shared by other users. It lets members build personalized playlists and take their music to the streets on their mobile device.

Another option is a printed or emailed one-year subscription to Pandora One for $36--perks here include ad-free and unlimited streaming.

Note: Spotify Premium, the advanced version of the vastly popular Spotify music service, can’t be gifted in the United States as of yet.

Personalization: Scrapbooks, Themed Blogs, Ecards

You can add a more personalized touch to your egift by creating a personlized ecard, online scrapbook, or blog.

One way to do this is by putting together an online scrapbook or themed blog through services like Tumblr (if you’re not HTML-savvy). For instance, you could create a Michael Jackson-themed blog to accompany the iTunes songs you sent as a virtual gift.

Hallmark offers some ecards for free and others for a $12 annual premium subscription. Your recipient might love the gift of a selection of ecards they can send out all year round.

The site offers ecards with original, witty content, and so does Blue Mountain, which is more family-oriented. Blue Mountain also gives you the option of including an gift card along with your purchase of an ecard.

Gamer Goods: PC Games, Xbox Live Points, PlaystationPlus

Giving the gamer in your life one of these digital gifts will have them thanking you until the New Year.

A Steam gift purchase will knock your PC gamer’s socks off. It’s hot because it gives users instant access to games, automatic updates, and friend chat.

Xbox 360 Live Points will enable your favorite Xbox gamer to buy games in the Xbox Live Marketplace. The easiest approach is to purchase an online game code from Amazon (coming in $20 or $50 versions) as an egift.

The PlayStationPlus feature offers cloud saves, PlayStation Store updates, and the biggest perk--free full-game trials on a monthly basis. You can buy a 12-month ($50) or 3-month ($18) subscription as an egift through Best Buy. Note: Sony has been apologetic about the security issues it suffered with its PlayStation Store earlier this year.

Photographers: Photo Storage

Give your photography-loving friends the gift of a virtual photo gallery.

For photography nerds, buy a Flickr Pro account--it's about $25 for a one-year subscription. An account comes with unlimited photo and video uploads, storage, and bandwidth.

For a more professional option, try Carbonmade for $12 a month--it provides hosting and templates, and holds up to 50 projects, 500 images, and 10 videos.

No Good Category: Gift Certificates

If you just don't want to name the gift, you can take the alternative of buying an egift card from large tech sellers such as Staples, Newegg, TigerDirect, or Best Buy and letting your giftee choose what they like.

In most cases, you make the purchase, and your recipient will receive an email confirming the gift. All you need is 5 minutes, Internet access, and a credit card.

You don’t have to stick to only large vendors--sites like ThinkGeek offer a multitude of gadgets for your geeky recipient and offer e-gift certificates.

For the Greater Good: Donations to Tech Charities

Also consider the option of donating to a tech charity. You can donate virtually to institutions such as the Computer History Museum, The Electronic Frontier Foundation, or the SETI Institute.

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